The Sprint Cup Series might have had the weekend off, but the Frontstretch Power Rankings didn’t take a break. This week, we are featuring the top up-and-coming drivers in stock car competition. It’s hard to argue that racing does not have a bright future with the number of drivers emerging from local tracks, earning opportunities in top-quality equipment in the three NASCAR national touring series. A youth movement is taking over the Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series, fighting hard with veteran Cup drivers each and every week they run. As soon as they graduate to the Cup level, there is another crop waiting in the wings. It will be exciting to watch all of these drivers mature through the years.
I was excited to see who our media team would choose as the current top up-and-coming drivers. Some of the drivers atop the rankings might not come as a surprise to many but others, placed further down the list are names you might not recognize. However, I implore you to take special notice of the drivers outside the top 15 that received votes. Remember their names, as they very well could be much higher in the rankings come this time next year.
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
(Sprint Cup/XFINITY Series) Chase Elliott’s first name is tailored for racing. His last name is historic NASCAR. It must run in the family. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
First Place Votes: 3
(XFINITY/Camping World Truck Series) Winning like his boss and getting just as mad when he doesn’t win. Brexton may be a long way from the driver’s seat but we might be getting a preview of what Kyle Busch, Jr. could be like in Erik – and it’s not good for the competition. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 2
(Sprint Cup/XFINITY/Camping World Truck Series) Hoping to force the issue with The Captain about expanding to that third team soon. Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com
(Camping World Truck Series) Reddick made some noise last year during a partial 16-race NCWTS schedule, earning two poles and nine top-10 finishes as well as showing to be a great closer in races. Just 19 years old, the seat time and continuing maturity has him contending for the NCWTS title this season for Brad Keselowski Racing. He is second in the championship on the strength of two wins and six top-5 finishes in nine starts. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
(XFINITY Series) A former ARCA champion, Buescher has found ways to excel in every form of motorsport he’s run. The fact he has the XFINITY Series points lead only surprises fans that haven’t followed him. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 1
(XFINITY Series) NASCAR’s equilvalent to IndyCar’s Charlie Kimball, Reed has overcome diabetes to compete in racing. While he hasn’t wowed others as much as Roush Fenway Racing teammates Chris Buescher or Darrell Wallace, Jr., his win in the season-opening race at Daytona proved the 21-year-old can find his way to Victory Lane. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
(XFINITY Series) Still a very strong prospect, but effectively trapped in the XFINITY Series by a ceiling. Either grandpa creates a fourth Cup team, hurting the other three in the process, or he gets farmed out to Circle Sport. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
(XFINITY Series) John Hunter Nemechek may never get the nickname “Front Row” but Joe’s son knows how to hunt up front. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
(XFINITY Series) Wallace, a talented Drive for Diversity graduate, made the jump to the XFINITY Series this year after a breakout season in the NCWTS last season, where he earned a pair of wins and finished third in the series championship. He is fifth in the XFINITY Series championship for Roush Fenway Racing, but admittedly wants more success out of the rookie campaign. He has just one top-5 finish in 14 starts but is looking for a second-half surge buoyed by a visit to Victory Lane. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
(Camping World Truck Series) Custer’s career has exploded since the last time Frontstretch.com ran “prospect” Power Rankings. He has two Camping World Truck Series wins and still can’t race full-time at age 17. He’s probably too good for K&N Pro Series East right now. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
(ARCA/XFINITY Series) Ross Kenseth is another young guy with speed genes. Dad [Matt Kenseth] is often quiet, yet funny, so that might be Ross’s demeanor in the garage. Fast on the track might be another family trait. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
(XFINITY/Camping World Truck Series) Suarez, a 23-year-old native of Monterrey, Mexico, has climbed through the ranks of the NASCAR Mexico Series and K&N Series, arriving in NASCAR’s national series last year with the Camping World Trucks. He has shown signs of a breakout this season as he shuttles between the XFINITY and Truck Series. In the trucks, he has top-10 finishes in all six starts and half of those are among the top 5. In XFINITY, he is 10th in the championship behind five top-10 finishes for Joe Gibbs Racing. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
(Camping World Truck Series) A great late model driver, Hemric has improved mightily in his first season in the Truck Series, rattling off five top 10s in the last six races. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
(K&N Pro Series East) Byron, 17, has led 498 of the 902 total laps of competition in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this season, scoring three wins in the first six races. He’s also won his only start in the CARS Super Late Model Tour and finished second in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. If he keeps this pace up, Byron will be a household name in the next couple years. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
(ARCA Series) Self won Rookie of the Year honors in ARCA last season en route to a sixth-place finish in the series championship. The 19-year-old Texan is off to another solid start this season, currently fourth in the championship behind six top-10 finishes in nine starts. Mike Zizzo, Texas Motor Speedway
Others Receiving Votes: Ben Kennedy (27), Dakoda Armstrong (26), Mason Mingus (25), Ross Chastain (21), Gray Gaulding (20), Kaz Grala (18), Grant Enfinger (17), Noah Gragson (13), Ben Rhodes (12), Austin Theriault (12), Landon Cassill (11), David Levine (10), Dylan Lupton (8), Christopher Bell (6), Sarah Cornett-Ching (6), Cody Coughlin (6), Kyle Weatherman (6), Rico Abreu (5), Kyle Benjamin (4), Spencer Gallagher (4), Brennan Poole (4), Brandon Jones (3), Gracin Raz (3), Dalton Sargeant (2), Austin Hill (1), Mason Mitchell (1).